J.W. Kelley Old Milford Single Barrel Double Oaked Bourbon Review
A double oaked bourbon with more kick and complexity than the other one you're thinking of.
Old Milford Single Barrel Select
Type: Straight bourbon
Distillery: undisclosed, distilled in Texas
Age: From 5 to 8 years
"J.W. Kelly’s original Single Barrel Bourbon was bottled at cask strength, creating a handmade style with its own unique flavors. Reborn in 2016, this unique single barrel, coming in at 109 proof, is hand bottled and double oaked. Every barrel is selected from barrels 5-8 years old. Once the barrel has been selected it is then transferred into a new American oak barrel and aged for another 8-12 months."
Caramel and butterscotch leap out of the glass first. There's a healthy kick of oak and vanilla as well, which is no surprise with the double oaked process. Behind the sweeter, more traditional aromas is a spicy note, like fresh cracked pepper. Rounding things off, I get the slightest bit of spearmint, like Wrigley's gum. It's faint, but it's as if somebody splashed a few drops of a mint julep into this bourbon.
The traditional bourbon notes of caramel and vanilla are all over this first sip. As it lingers, a spicier side spreads throughout with just enough of a bite to keep things interesting. For 109 proof, it does not drink hot at all. There's an element of clove and maybe even a little rye spice. Going back for a second taste, the sweet oak element becomes more prevalent. The whole palate has an undertone of sweet fermented honey that pops up here and there, which I think pulls it together nicely.
This is a warm, medium finish. There's very little burn, but it leaves a pleasant tingle behind until you're reaching for the next sip. The notes of honey, caramel and oak carry through right to the end.
This was my first taste of anything from J.W. Kelly & Co so I went in with no expectations whatsoever, but I have to say I enjoyed this bourbon. There are so many good bourbons on shelf nowadays that if I'm going to pick something I've never had before, I look for something unique or different. This isn't the only double oaked product on the market, but it's substantially different than the others I've tried. For comparison, I tried this side-by-side with Woodford Double Oaked. Whereas that product is pure sweetness and tastes like liquid bubblegum (the pink kind), the J.W. Kelly brings some depth with bolder, peppery notes that are counter-balanced by the sweet oak. Overall, this bourbon has some heat, a little kick, plenty of sweetness and is complex enough to present new flavors with each taste. I'm a fan.
This bottle was provided at no cost by J.W. Kelly & Co. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is a general guide of what I consider each score range
4.75 - 5.00: Phenomenal. Hard to imagine anything better. Acquire at any cost.
4.25 - 4.50: Excellent. I'll camp out to get a bottle if necessary.
3.75 - 4.00: Great stuff. I'll buy backups if not too expensive.
3.25 - 3.50: Good stuff. Try to keep one on the bar, but don't spend too much.
2.75 - 3.00: Not bad. I don't regret the purchase, but may not buy another.
2.25 - 2.50: Sub-par. I regret the purchase. Reserved for mixed drinks.
1.75 - 2.00: Bad. I'll struggle to finish the bottle. May not want it in cocktails.
0.00 - 1.50: Drain-pour. Something seems wrong with it. Get it away.